Tips for hiking during COVID-19
Single file is the way to go when hiking a singletrack trail. To politely let people pass, step aside on a durable surface, like a rock or bare spot, to help prevent erosion while giving fellow hikers 6 feet of space. Also, cover your nose and mouth and wave hello! You’ll find our trails are packed with friendly folk.
At times when emergency professionals might be especially busy — like during the COVID-19 pandemic — the Colorado Search and Rescue Association asks that you hold off on high-risk outdoor activities, such as backpacking, backcountry skiing and peak bagging. Colorado plans on being here for a long time, so save those for future adventures.
—courtesy Boulder City Open Space
Caribou Ranch Open Space
(Easy) Hiking-Skiing-Horseback Riding
The trail system is 4.5 miles round trip from the parking lot. You can hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and ride horses. No dogs or bikes are allowed. Visit the DeLonde Homestead and the historic Bluebird mining camp. The trails partially follow an old railroad bed through towering stands of ancient aspens, endless meadows, and past delightful ponds teeming with wildlife. The trails are closed April 1 through June 30 to protect migratory birds, overwintering elk, and calving elk.
» To reach the trailhead, drive north from Nederland on the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway about 3 miles to County Road 126. Turn west onto the gravel road and follow the signs to the parking lot.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
(Easy to Strenuous) Hiking-Fishing-Skiing-Mountain Biking
South of Nederland/Rollinsville and north of Black Hawk, the park’s 35 miles of trails offer something for everyone. Mountain bikes and horses share the trails with hikers. Dogs are permitted; they must be on a 6-foot leash at all times. There is no cell phone or Internet service in the park; pay phones are located at the Visitor Center and Campground office. All vehicles entering the park require a daily pass, annual passes are available. Stop at Panorama Point for some awesome views. Raccoon Trail is a moderate 2.5-mile loop, with an elevation gain of 500 feet. Horseshoe Trail is 1.8 miles one way and is restricted to hikers only. It can be a good choice on a hot day as it has plenty of shade and follows seasonal streams.
Aspen groves and a series of waterfalls just off the trail are highlights of this 3-mile round trip with 800 feet of elevation gain. Remnants of the area’s mining history remain at Lost Lake. u To get to the trailhead continue a mile and a half west of where the pavement ends in the historic town of Eldora. Park along the road east of the Y in the road (Fourth of July turnoff). Parking is very limited and fills fast. In summer, park in the RTD lot in Nederland and ride the shuttle bus to the trailhead.
At 13,223 feet, Mount Audubon is the highest peak in Indian Peaks Wilderness with a maintained trail to the summit. Beware of afternoon thunderstorms as much of the trail is above treeline. The trail is rocky, and snow can linger in patches well into the summer. After a mile of fairly steep climbing and as you just break timberline, there is a trail junction. Go left. From there, the climb is straightforward, and the trail is well marked with four-foot-high rock cairns. This 7.6-mile hike takes all day, and with an elevation gain of 2,700 feet you will find views on par with those from any other Colorado mountain, from across the Indian Peaks to Rocky Mountain National Park. u The trail starts at the Blue Lake/Mitchell Lake trailhead in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area (fee in summer) west of Ward.
Jean Luning Trail
A stroll through fir and spruce around Long Lake (a level mile) captures the essence of the Peak to Peak mountain experience, and it can be a great family experience. Fantastic views of the lake and snow-capped Indian Peaks come into view around every corner of this five-star hike. u Access the trail from Brainard Lake’s Long Lake trailhead.
Barker Reservoir Trail
The trail starts near the covered pedestrian bridge in downtown Nederland. It follows the creek through Chipeta Park, crosses the weir bridge at the inlet to Barker Reservoir, winds around the west side of the lake, and then turns at the parking lot to follow the shores of the north side of the reservoir to the dam. Picnic tables are frequent, and mileage is marked.